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Jay Leno to Jimmy Fallon: The bigger stars are not necessarily the best talkers

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With 41 days until he debuts his Late Night program on NBC, Jimmy Fallon is getting serious about his transformation into talk show host. The latest webisode on his show’s site finds Fallon asking Jay Leno for advice following his appearance on Monday’s Tonight Show. Fallon asks Leno if there’s anything he knows now that he wishes he knew when he first started. In case you can’t decipher Leno’s surprisingly interesting response at the end of the clip below — Leno didn’t warn Fallon that it’s best not to do an interview while a band is playing? — here’s my best attempt at a transcript: “I mean, you learn a lot of stuff. You learn that the bigger stars are not necessarily the best talkers. You know, character actors that have stories [are just as good/better]….Actually, one thing you’ll find out is there’s only about 18 people in the world that mean anything ratings-wise….Well, I mean obviously, if you’ve got, you know, Drew Barrymore or Tom Cruise, these people also make a difference. But a lot of times, people you think will be huge, not necessarily huge, so it’s up to you to try and keep it funny….Big stars look good for name value, but they don’t necessarily make the show more interesting. The show is about you more than it is about [them]. Like we’re primarily a comedy show that has guests. In the old days, we used to be a talk show….The monologue in the old days used to be three or four minutes, now it’s 12 or 13, and then you have a comedy piece, and then you have a headline, and then you have a guest….You gotta keep it moving.”

I’d love to hear which stars are expected to be ratings gets — and aren’t. Any guesses?

How are you feeling about Fallon’s March 2 debut now, knowing the show is more about him than those he’ll interview?

More on Jimmy Fallon and Jay Leno:
Jimmy Fallon’s Late Night video blog: Stand still, will ya?
Jimmy Fallon to take over for Conan O’Brien in ’09
Margeaux’s Mix: The Roots join Late Night?
Jay Leno to prime time: Why NBC is doing it